Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded and mentored by great leaders. Here are some traits of great leaders that I’ve been trying to emulate lately.
1. Be a selfless leader – To lead is to serve. Give credit to your team and take the blame. Be humble and shed your ego. Enable your team to bring their best selves to work.
2. Surround yourself with the right people – Always find talent that can challenge you, is smarter than you and talent that can complement you. Great leaders encourage opinions, are open to being proven wrong and know their gaps. If folks around you agree with everything you say and do, that’s a red flag.
3. Make reversible decisions quickly – Be careful and deliberate on consequential, irreversible decisions – I picked up this amazing insight from Jeff Bezos’s 2016 letter to shareholders
4. Try to be an effective, not popular leader – Be honest and transparent about what is working and what is not. Don’t hesitate to share constructive feedback with your colleagues. Be thoughtful and kind, but don’t sugarcoat hard messages.
5. Focus on high-quality problems and beware of the bikeshed effect – Avoid spending your time on trivial issues. Ensure that your organisation is spending most of their time on issues of actual importance.
6. Learn, Learn and learn some more – No matter how further along you are in your career, have the mindset that it’s still Day 1 and that you are just about getting started. Charlie Munger said it best – “I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you”.
What are some of the areas that you’ve been focusing on as a leader?